I've just read a little bit on overclocking, but I'm not sure on one part when it comes to the RAM. My OS only recognizes a portion of one of the RAM sticks (I don't remember if it's because the mobo limits to less than 4GB or the 32-bit). Many guides mention switching values involving the RAM. I'm unsure might happen if these guides don't anticipate someone like me who doesn't have access to all of their RAM because of a hardware limitation. Is there anything to watch out for with this problem?
Now, I've also seen a lot of people have fantastic success with my current CPU, the E7300. I have no real money, so overclocking is probably the best bet--the machine has stock cooling, idles around 45C~ or so, has never gotten hotter than
55C (gaming rig).
But I don't have much time to understand the guides in-depth anytime soon, with university studies. Over winter break I'd have more time, but I'd miss the sale, in case it might be better just to purchase a good upgrade deal.
Any suggestions or help for my RAM question, and my dilemma in general? I've also seen that most guides emphasis most of OC is just multiplier and Vcore stuff, none of the stuff about RAM. What's the real deal of it?
You can always try over clocking but this is an old system already in terms of technology. Try to overclock it with the help of someone with experience. If you still aren't satisfied with the performance you will have to consider a new computer. I honestly wouldn't dump any more money into the computer you have seeing how old it is it is best to save up until you can built a computer with an i5-2500k in it. I would just try to build a new computer with parts you can get on cyber monday/ black friday. Set yourself a limit and we can help you come up with a new computer build. You can start by re-using parts form your old computer to save money. The graphics card you have is still good and if you don't mind completely taking appart you old computer you can use the power supply and hard drive too. See what parts you can get during the sales and over time get more until you have an entire computer.
First and foremost I would upgrade your PSU to something a bit more reliable. I'd start with at least a quality 400w PSU (especially if your OC'ing your CPU) at the minimum, 500w if you want some upgrade room to grow. I'd look at Antec/Seasonic/PCP&C/Corsair would be the brands that I'd consider. They have good reputations and back their PSU's with 3-5 year warranties. I wouldn't trust the HEC PSU that you currently have (19A combined on the 12v rail is a bit weak, IMHO).
Overclocking can be a relatively inexpensive way of stretching the operational life of a system.
I am not familiar with the MSI BIOS but you should be able to find overclocking instructions for an MSI P35 motherboard. The BIOS should be similar, perhaps with fewer settings.
Go into the BIOS and take the CPU voltage off Auto. Set the memory voltage to factory recommended levels. Go in and set the memory clock to twice the CPU FSB freq.
Keep your core voltage under 1.45 volts and your load temps under 70 C.
Then you can start pushing the FSB upward. Your motherboard will limit you to around 3.4 - 3.6 GHz.
I read around a little, and unfortunately it seems that the mobo doesn't allow me to change the vcore at all. It's grayed out and ye olde google has no answers about it (but does mention now and then how some of these entry level mobos lock out the function.
I did get to 301x10 without any problems. At 305 Prime95 would choke pretty soon after starting, but at 301 it ran for about twenty minutes without any problems. Temperatures have barely nudged just like suggested
Would upgrading the mobo be in good interest? I'm still fairly new to hardware changes, but I wouldn't be against the idea of picking up a good one over the sales and trying to put it in over winterbreak.
The problem with trying to upgrade a Core2 system is that the supply of good motherboards has just about dried up. Practically all of the available motherboards use DDR3 RAM. And once you buy a new motherboard and RAM, you may as well buy a new CPU.
I am still running old Core2 systems, but two of them are still pretty powerful overclocked quad core systems, so I can wait for Ivy Bridge.
My personal rule for upgrading an old system is that if it costs more than $100 for a significant upgrade, it is not worth it.
Even a basic i3 or AMD system would be much more powerful than what you have now.